Aged garlic – what’s with the ageing?

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Good old Garlic.

Aged garlic is one of the most popular food supplements in use this century. Studies have shown garlic to be beneficial as a supportive treatment for a broad range of health problems from diabetes, high cholesterol, cancer, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, and atherosclerosis to the prevention of colds and thrombosis.

But what's the ageing got to do with it?

Garlic contains many natural active substances such as the enzyme allinase, alliin that contains sulfur and the main ingredient allicin.  All work in synergy to create the beneficial affects but allicin is an unstable molecule and breaks down easily. Garlic is usually aged by breaking down the garlic cloves (slicing crushing or chopping) and leaving them in a liquid such as alcohol, water or other solvent for between one and two years. The effect of ageing causes the allicin to break down and change into other more stable substances such as the lipid or water soluble organosulfur compounds, s-allylcysteine and s-allyl mercapto cysteine. These are powerful antioxidants and are the power behind many of the benefits of aged garlic.

Here we report on three of the latest studies to show specific beneficial actions of aged garlic.

1. Colon Cancer

There have been many studies pointing to aged garlic having an ability to inhibit and even prevent cancer growth but there is very little evidence on its mechanism of action.  A new study has shown that aged black garlic inhibited colon cancer cell growth by stimulating cell death and stopping the cell cycle.  The team also showed the point in the biochemical pathway that the aged black garlic targets to achieve the inhibition of the colon cancer cells.  Conclusions are that aged garlic may well be an effective treatment for colon cancer.

2. Leukaemia

A study group has looked at the mechanism by which a hexane extract of aged black garlic inhibits human leukaemia cells.  The group studied growth inhibition and its regulation.  Results showed that the extract inhibited growth by inducing cell death and increasing the amounts of the natural cells death receptor on the cancer cells. The group concludes that the extract inhibits leukaemia cell growth by both an intrinsic and extrinsic pathway and shows great potential as a leukaemia treatment.

3. Cholesterol

A recent study states that the ability of garlic to lower cholesterol has been controversial and the research team have therefore carried out a new study to investigate the effects of aged black garlic supplements on the lipid profiles in patients with mildly elevated cholesterol levels. The study was carried out using a placebo control and showed that there was no difference in triglyceride, LDL cholesterol, nor free fatty acid levels between the garlic treated group and the placebo group.  However there was an increase in the good HDL cholesterol in the garlic group compared to the placebo group.


1. Dong et al. Aged black garlic extract inhibits HT29 colon cancer cell growth via the PI3K/Akt signalling pathway. Biomed Rep. Mar 2014.

2. Park et al. Induction of apoptosis by a hexane extract of aged black garlic in the human leukemic U937 cells. Nutr Res Pact. April 2014.

3. Jung et al. Reduction of blood lipid parameters by a 12 week supplementation of aged black garlic. A randomized controlled trial. Nutrition 2014.





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